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North Mississippi Women’s History Project Transcribed Interview Interviewee: Kate Rogers Place: Union County Historical Museum Date: October 26, 2005 Interviewer: Thom Copeland Copeland: My name is Thom Copeland and I'm with Kate Rogers from Union County. Mrs. Rogers, what year were you born? Rogers: 1905, July the 25th. Copeland: Were you born in Union County? Rogers: I was born in Union County. My mother had all her children born at home. In the home with Dr. Pennebaker. Copeland: Dr. Pennebaker? Rogers: Yes. Copeland: So your mother did not have to use a midwife? Rogers: I wouldn't know that. Of course, there were neighbor women who would come over there. Copeland: I see. Where did ya'll live in Union County when you were born? Rogers: Yes. We live in Union County about two miles from here. Copeland: From New Albany? Rogers: Actually, do you know where Cotton Plant is? Copeland: I've heard of Cotton Plant. Rogers: That was our Post office. At that time, that was where the train stopped and that’s where the Post office was and if my daddy wanted mail earlier, he would put one of us on the horse and tell us to go to cotton plant and get the mail. That's one thing I remember. Copeland: Did you have any brothers or sisters? Rogers: Yes, there was seven of us. And I was next to the baby. My first, my oldest brother was in the first World War. Copeland: His name was what? Rogers: Bernard Blaire Barkley. He died pretty soon after he came home from the army. Copeland: Really, what caused his death? Rogers: We never did know. I think they thought it had to do with a wisdom tooth that had been pulled while he was in the army and it became... eventually i think that's what killed him. Copeland: How many brothers did you have, total? Rogers: I had three brothers, Bernard Blaire, John, and Ralph. Copeland: And your sisters? Rogers: My sisters, I had three, would that be right? Lets see, yes. Yes. My oldest sister Lee, my middle sister Helen, and my baby sister, younger than i was... about three years later. Copeland: Did ya'll live on a farm? Rogers: We lived on a farm between New Albany and Cotton Plant. Copeland: Did ya'll own the land, or did you sharecrop? Rogers: No, he owned the land, he and his two brothers. There were four brothers at one time that came from Scotland. But that was, I think they settled in South Carolina or North Carolina. Eventually, all four of them settled around Union County, and Tippah County? Copeland: What made them leave South Carolina and move out to Mississippi? Rogers: Did you ask a question? Copeland: I asked, why did they leave South Carolina and move out here? Rogers: Oh, I don't know. I don't know. There are so many questions I wished I had asked my daddy, years ago. Of course I thought he knew everything. I had a wonderful mother and daddy as parents. Copeland: Where did ya'll go to church? Rogers: We went to Ebenezer. Let’s see. Actually, Ebenezer was in Tippah County but all of us in the community went to church. It was a Presbyterian Church. Copeland: Did you have me services every Sunday. Rogers: Yes. Eventually we came to have Sunday School at Concord, which was about a mile from where we lived in Union County. So, that's were our family's all grew up around Union County and the church was Ebenezer and Concord. And Beaver Dam was for the black people. Copeland: Really? How big, Cotton Plant must have been pretty big, then. Rogers: No, have you ever heard of Paul Rainey? Copeland: Yes. I've heard that name. Rogers: All right. Paul Rainey came down there from New York when he was interested in raising dogs. As a child, I first remember the dogs because they would, he would train the dogs and have them to run in the mornings. He had... I don't know how many he had. I guess around 50 to 100. We children loved to hear him blow a horn about a half a mile away to let us know he was coming by. And he would come by with all those little dogs trotting along. But that was something we had to look forward to, him exercising. Paul Rainey was at that time was a millionaire, which was unusual then, you know. He knew that would amuse the children. It was just a little town, Cotton Plant. He turned his home and pasture surrounding into sort of a theater and had a moving picture come and it was the first time I ever remember seeing a moving picture was at Paul Rainey's pasture. Copeland: Really? Rogers: Pearl White was the actress. Of course, that was quite a treat for everybody. Copeland: Do you know what year that would have been? Rogers: I would have been, when all this happened, 6 or 7 years old. Copeland: So, maybe 1911 or 1912. Rogers: Yes. I guess so. Don’t ask my years because I don't know. But that is one happy time for us when we knew he was going to show us a movie. Copeland: Was everyone in the community invited? Rogers: Oh, yes. All you had to do was go up there and sit on the grass. He had some one from out from Memphis to come out. Copeland: Did you have to pay money to go? Rogers: No. No. You can't imagine that, can you? Copeland: No, I can’t. Were there a lot of people that showed up? Rogers: I can't remember. But I knew everyone that would come out. There would be people almost from Blue Mountain. Cotton Plant and Blue Mountain were pretty close together. Now there are some pretty big towns between the two, in Tippah County and Union County. Copeland: Where did you go to school at? Rogers: At Concord, there was a two teacher school at Concord. I started at that school when I was 5 years old. Let's see. I'm trying to think who the teacher was. There was a Mr. Lewis who taught down stairs and a Mrs. Jones who taught the little ones upstairs. I never did graduate from down stairs. I stayed until I started school at the Heights. See, I had brothers and sisters both. I had to walk just about a mile to school every day. But I had brothers and sisters to walk with. I knew that when I got home from school on a cold day, my mother would have warm baked sweet potatoes in the stove. Back then our stove had a warm, what-do-you-call-it? Where you would keep things warm. She would have us a warm sweet potato baked and ready for us when we got home from school. That would seem funny now, but it was tasty when we got home. Copeland: When you got home from school, did you have responsibilities around the house? Rogers: Well, I can remember that one thing i had to do was to be sure that there was stove wood brought in the kitchen because they would start the fire early in the morning before I would wake up and to get the stove heated up for her to get the biscuits ready and the ham fried up on the stove. Copeland: Who started the fire? Rogers: My daddy or my mother. One would have to milk the cows. Copeland: So the day must have started very early. Rogers: Yes. It would. I was next to the baby. So there are some things I don't remember. Copeland: Right. Did you have farm animals? Rogers: Yes, we had a horse barn and a cow barn. Of course, guineas and chickens all around in the yard. A regular farm. Copeland: Did ya'll make butter? Rogers: Oh, yes, we had to churn and that would be one of my jobs, to churn. Any of us. Copeland: Was that butter made for the family or was it sold? Rogers: For the family. We made good buttermilk and eventually they got, I can remember, they bought a cream separator. I think that's what it’s called. Where you put the milk in and it separates the cream. Copeland: Right. Do you remember gathering eggs? Rogers: Oh yes. Yes. Sure. We had the hen house. Copeland: Did you sell any of those eggs or did you eat them? Rogers: No we just used them ourselves. Copeland: I see. Do you remember the rolling store or a peddler's wagon? Rogers: No. Seems like later on there was something called the Watkins store. W-a-t-k- i-n-s, but I don't remember what they sold. But that's the only thing I remember. My father was in New Albany during the week, quite often. Copeland: What did he do in New Albany during the week? Rogers: I can remember 16 years of my life he was the county supervisor of the third... let's see I live in the third ward... For sixteen years he was elected for that ward we lived in. I can remember when we had a Ford car. I can remember driving over county roads for the inspection and so forth. Copeland: Oh, he inspected the roads? Rogers: Yes. That's what they do now. Copeland: I see. Were the roads in good repair or bad repair? Rogers: I don't know a thing about that. Copeland: What do you remember your mother doing? Rogers: Oh, I can see her peddling that sewing machine. See we had to make, with three girls, she would be making clothes most of the time. So she would have that to do and so many things around the house. Seeing that our clothes were ready to go to church and so forth. Plenty to do. Copeland: Do you remember where she got the material for your dresses? Rogers: Well, mostly the one store in Cotton Plant. It belonged to one of the families and they had everything. I can remember always going to Aunt Annie's store to pick out the material we wanted for our dress for our mother to make. Copeland: How did she wash those clothes? Rogers: Oh, a scrub board in the wash tub. Copeland: Did she boil the water? Rogers: Yes, we had, as I remember, a fire built under the pot. Especially when they killed hogs. Copeland: Do you remember the hog killings? Rogers: Yes. Copeland: I don't know much about that. Can you explain how that worked? Rogers: Well, let me see. I think that neighbors joined together to help one another, you know. I can remember my mother really worked those days. She had to see about what they did with the meat. They would have to hang shoulders, I guess you would say, in the, what do you call it where they hung the meat.... the smoke house. They had to get that up. They had this big grinder to grind the sausages. There was something to do all the time, both in the summer and in the winter. Copeland: When you kill hogs, do you normally do that when it's cooler? Rogers: Oh, I wouldn't even go about when they were doing that. I never even saw them kill one. Copeland: But you said the community comes together to help. Copeland: Well, I say that. I don't know too much about that. Someway, I think they divided things like that. I better go easy on that because I don't have any idea. I was little when all that was going on. Copeland: About how many people attended your church? Rogers: Oh, I wish I knew so I could tell you. You've never been to Ebenezer, have you? Copeland: No. Rogers: Well, we had a reunion there last week, ten days ago. Let's see. We had some mighty good pastures there too. I couldn't even describe it. But sometimes we had what they called a protracted meeting. Where it was the last of the week and you would go in the morning and you would go at night. We had a surrey. Do you know what a surrey was? With a surrey, you had two seats and two horses hitched to it. That is the way we would go to church on Sunday. My father and my Mother and the three younger ones would go in the surrey and the three boys would ride horses. When we went to see the movie I can remember that momma was holding my baby sister. She always, papa didn't go to the movies, but momma would always have them hitch the horse to the buggy. She had her own buggy. She was holding the baby and she let it fall out, my baby sister. It cut a little dash right here and all her life, she had that scar there where it finally healed. Let me see, what else? That takes us all to church, doesn't it? Then at school and finally when my father realized that we, the older ones, were going to have to go further than that. Have you ever heard of Blue Mountain's, over where the boys... Professor Brown had this academy for the boys to go to school. So three of my brothers finished their high school there and then went on to college. One of my brothers died of Hodgkin’s disease when he finished at A&M and he was working as a cotton classer at New Orleans. What was that hospital there? Anyway. There was always a school they could try to get as close to home as they could. It's not like it is now. Copeland: Did you go to Blue Mountain College? Rogers: Yes and no. I went there when I was in the 8th grade and after that, my father was having me go back and forth during the week and he decided to buy a home in New Albany. He did. I was in the first high school. That's were I finished. I finished high school in New Albany. I had a real good teacher, business school teacher. She wanted some of us to go to Bowling Green business school because that's were she went. So, about four of us went there. That's where I went. I finished there at Bowling Green Business University. I don't think it's there anymore. From there, I intended to go.... they would place you and I had already determined where I would be placed for my first job. Before I could do anything about it, my daddy had placed me in the Bank of New Albany where my daddy could keep an eye on me. I never needed to get away from that until I went up there and Mr. Dick Hall employed me as his secretary. I worked with him until I found my sweetheart in high school. As soon as he finished at Mississippi State, we got married. Copeland: What year did you get married? Rogers: 1929. Copeland: Where did ya'll live? Did you live in New Albany? Rogers: Oh, I can't tell you how many places we lived. He was with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Where they were building dams? This son that was here just ago, he was born at Fontana Dam. No, this is Bill. Bill was born at Hill Creek Dam and then, by the time the next one was born we were at Fontana Dam. He was born at Fontana Dam, one of them was. I was just wherever my father was employed. Okay, now what next? Copeland: Where did ya'll get married at? Rogers: At the Cleveland Street Presbyterian Church. Copeland: Was it w big wedding? Rogers: No. It was just family -- and that's pretty big. In fact, I remember the first church wedding in New Albany was about a year before that and it was in the First Baptist Church. The first big wedding in New Albany. There were a lot from then on. It brings back memories of good pastures we had at that church. Copeland: How did you meet your meet your husband? Rogers: I can remember when I first went to high school seeing him walk across the stage with two other boys, and I thought to my self.... But anyway, I think he loved me then. But there was never anybody else. I went through a lot. But it was always the same one. Copeland: Do you remember the years when ya’ll dated? What did you do on the weekends? Rogers: Alright, on weekends, we speak of it every once and a while. On Saturday night we would just drive down town and park in front of the drug store that would bring Coca- Colas out to us, you know. Things were different back then. But we loved to do that. That was pretty tame, when I think about it now. But that was one thing. It wasn't like it is now. No. Copeland: Did you get together with other couples? Rogers: Oh, a lot of times. Yes. Yes. Copeland: What types of things did you do then? Rogers: Let me see. Of course, by then they had begun to have the moving picture shows. I can remember two different ones, even when I was young, real young. Things began to thrive then. I'm trying to think; my husband died, well he died in 1981. He had a brain tumor operation and that didn't help him. After that, for 27 years, I just nursed him because he was just helpless. So, that took that much out of my life. But it was what I wanted. I wanted... I tried my best to try and find a place where I could stay with him. He was just 49 years old and I was 50. I had heard that maybe the Rotary organization had a place there where you could have a place where the husband and wife... and a lot of people tried to help me find a place. They said to try the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation place just out of Washington. So, I said I'll try anything if I can find a place where we can both be together. And they said well, you can't be with him up there, he would have to be with other people. So, that was the hardest thing I ever had to do. So, I.... it was a month I would have to leave him there a month. I said well it that's what it takes, I'll do it. And I had to go back with my two little boys and wait that month. That was the worst month that I ever, ever... Well, for 27 years, I took care of him. And I was as happy as I could be because I knew that would be with him where ever he was. I didn't have to leave him anywhere. I could be with him. So, it was a pleasure for me to do it. And he lived... he died in 81. So, it was that long that I took care of him. So that was a lot of my life. But, I had.... everybody had been good to me. Copeland: So ya'll have two sons? Rogers: Oh, I had this one and one that lives in St. Louis and he's retired. Both are retired. Yeah, I just had two children. Praise the Lord for them. Sometimes they let me stay by my self. And I do just fine. I do my own work. I do my own cooking, everything. Copeland: When did you learn to drive? Rogers: What? Copeland: Do you drive? Rogers: Oh, they took my car away from me when I got to be 100 years old. They thought that was as long as I needed be driving. They had one of the two women that were giving them trouble, you know. Yeah, I was going to get my groceries and dry cleaning, and things around the house, you know. Oh, I miss it so. The worst thing in the world. Are you married? Copeland: Yes. Rogers: Tell your wife to drive as long as she wants to drive. If they tell her she can't drive, just do some way. That's the worst feeling. When I have to be responsible for someone to bring me around to gather the milk. It's awful. Copeland: I'm sure. Rogers: Tell her two things. Tell her not to tell her age, just keep it a secret. People just kept up with me. Well, how old are you now? Well, it's none of their business. Tell her to keep driving as long as she can. Copeland: I'll tell her. She's one to drive. She goes all over the place. Rogers: Of course, you know the two or three at the First Methodist Church, that's where my husband belonged so I joined with him. So, but I still, my church up there. Copeland: How old were you when you learned to drive? Rogers: Oh Lord, real young. Back then, they let them drive. But it was different back then because it wasn't dangerous. I'm scared for any of my family to be on the highway anymore. Copeland: Do you remember who taught you to drive? Rogers: No. My father bought a Maxwell car. Have you ever heard of it? Copeland: I'm not familiar with it. Rogers: Well, they didn't make many of them. It didn't last long until they goy that Ford and he couldn't drive anymore. I don't remember. By that time, I was married. I can remember it was 1924, or 7. Anyway, we bought our first car, a Ford, for $900. It was brand new. Copeland: Did your neighbors have cars to? Rogers: Yes. Copeland: Were their cars as nice as yours? Rogers: Yes. My brother-in-law had two different Buicks. Mine is in my shed, now. It was a 1978 Buick, an ugly color. But it drives so good and they won't let me drive it. You see some mighty fancy ones now. I noticed one the other day, it was a black car. I notice many people are driving a black car. Pretty. Well, that was my life in the country. I lived with the Tennessee Valley Authority. They would build a village for the ones who did the hiring, which my husband did several of them. Then we'd move in and the next thing you would know, the further away I was, we had to live in New Haven, CT just for three months. I didn't like that a bit. We got back south. We've finally after I had to have help is when I moved back with my folks and bought the lot next to my father's house. I built a home, a very modest home. So now, I'm 100 years old. Copeland: When you were growing up and went to church, did women wear hats? Rogers: Oh, I wish I had a picture to show you. I had a picture of myself and of this boy that left me here; he was about 5 years old. I was... whatever that would make me... anyway, we were walking down the streets of Knoxville. One of these snappers took our picture. I wouldn't take anything for that picture. Anyway, I had on a hat and had my gloves on and we were on our way to James store there. I was going to get some material. A lady was going to make me a jacket. Bill was trotting along. I was holding his hand. He was holding a little paper bag and in that bag, he had little lead toy soldiers. I bet you never had any of those. Copeland: No. Rogers: Anyway when we got to the place where I could look at the bolts of material, he would hide those soldiers around in there and I can see that right now. Yes, we wore hats and we wore gloves and I drove cars. Copeland: Do you consider yourself pretty independent? Rogers: Yes. But, scared. I don't know what's going to happen. Both of my sons have retired and won't stay still a minute. One of them, the one in St. Louis, he started out several years ago with friends going on trips abroad, you know. They just can’t get enough of it. They just can't wait for the next trip, you know. Right now, this one says his next trip's going to be Australia. I said that's just too far away. But that's all they study, where are we going next time. So, I don't know. Now they take turns and one of them, this one, they call me twice a day. Have I jabbered long enough?
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